Friday, March 21, 2014
- When we read any book of the Bible, we should be keeping it in context of the grander scale of what God is doing. The theme running throughout the Bible is God's passion for His glory through the redemption of Man. Everything in the Scriptures serve this end of glorifying God.
- With that in mind, what do the seemingly tedious lists that God decrees to Moses over and over again regarding the tabernacle in Exodus 25-30 show us? They show us that God does not do things that are random or unbeknownst to Himself. They seem unbeknownst to us, but He has a plan. He is in control and knows all things. The tendency at this point is to make a principle that goes something like this: God has a specific plan for your life and He will work all things out for your good. While this is true, I think we are missing the greater principle. God knows it all. And while He makes plans for your life and my life as individuals, His passion is for His covenant community. His plan was never to redeem individuals to Himself, but Mankind to Himself. Do you see the perspective shift? We shouldn't begin with self-focused thinking when God declares that He has our good in mind. We should begin by viewing ourselves in light of the community we entered when Christ regenerated us. This slight perspective shift will begin to draw us away from individualistic thinking and bring us into how we should be operating as the Church--as a body of believers.
-Finally, and what I intend to be the bulk of this post, pertains to the greater meaning of the Tent of Meeting, or the Tabernacle. In Exodus 40:34, after the Tent of Meeting was completed as God had commanded, "the glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle." Wow. Stop for a moment and grant me an attempt to feel what it was like as the nation of Israel to have the Lord to dwell among them. Up until this point, Israel has been communicating with God through Moses and away from their presence. Moses has very much been the intermediary between them and God, and to be sure, Moses continues to be the intermediary. But the difference now is that God is tangibly dwelling in a tent that they have made for him in the same camp that they sleep and eat in. I know I'm not doing this context it's full justice but this is unbelievable! God chose to come and dwell among His people. I would imagine that whenever an average Israelite were to walk by the Tent of Meeting or even see it, that would do something in them. I imagine that they would remember that God is there by the cloud that covered it by day, and fire that covered it by night (40:38). Of course, this doesn't mean they stop sinning, as we later see in the following books, but that's powerful. The Tabernacle became central to Israel and, fast forwarding hundreds of years for the sake of my point, leads to the building of the Temple in Jerusalem. "How does the Tabernacle and Temple factor in God's plan today?" The punch line to this is that the Tabernacle is no longer necessary. The Temple? No need. Because Paul tells us that we are the temple that houses the Spirit of God since Jesus has taken our sin to the grave. Now, by faith, we accept that Christ took our punishment so we don't have to, die to those sins daily, and put on the righteousness that Jesus gives as a free gift. In light of this we are new and 1 Corinthians 3:16, 17b says, "Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you? ... For God's temple is holy, and you are that temple." Again, we can be sure that our bodies, individually, are God's temple as Paul clearly says later in 1 Corinthians 6:19. This is unbelievable as well. However, keeping with theme, the "you" in 3:16-17 is meant to be plural. We are viewed together, whoever recognizes Christ as their Lord. To conclude, we can see that God, by His ultimate plan of redemption, purposely established this Tent of Meeting in Exodus to be a shadow of how He will one day live in the body of believers. He has no need for a Holy Place, like in the Temple. He lives in His sons and daughters so that instead of communicating through an intermediary like Moses or a priest, Jesus is that intermediary that gives us direct access to the Father.
I hope this helps to give purpose to the book of Exodus where it can seem dull at times. The entire Bible has a meaning and greater purpose to show His glory that ultimately is fulfilled in the person of Jesus, the Christ, and His finished work on the cross.
My continued thanks to Pastor Andrew. You can check out some of his thoughts for yourself at his blog here.
Wednesday, March 12, 2014
I don't particularly endorse or agree with all of what the author of the post has to say but I think he does an interesting job writing his post. It's a long article so I would encourage you to carve out 10 minutes to read it. Whether you agree with it or not is beside the point but if nothing else, let it stretch you in what you may think about alcohol consumption. I think the author may have something about the church being too passive in what is going on in culture. I don't say that to rip the church but rather to speak reality into our congregation. Sitting idly by while culture "does it's thing" is not what Jesus intended for His church. We are called to be engaged with the culture but not to be identified with it. We identify with Christ and His finished, redeeming work on the cross. From there, being firmly grounded in that identity, we should engage the culture to show them the hope that there is in God. Again, we can't afford to shut out the sinful "world." We treat everyone with the same love and grace that Christ has shown us so that people outside the covenant with God can see there is something to be desired in the Christ. The general point I want to get across is that we, the church, shouldn't be quick to dodge tough issues. Open up dialogue and let's search the Scriptures on tough topics like alcohol and sex. It's when we are silent on issues like these that the devil begins to pervert them of their true meaning and how we ought to think about these issues.
Thursday, February 23, 2012
This was an assignment for one of my classes. I needed to write a forum post on this question: "Is there a legitimate hope biblically of making America Christian? Should that be the church's/Christian’s goal?" in response to a couple of articles I had to read. Here's my answer and glean what you can from it.
We should not be looking to make America a Christian nation. It’s not biblical. You can make the argument of going into all nations proclaiming the Gospel, but it doesn’t say anything about going into the places of law and political places to convert them. Christianity deals with people. We need to keep that the real thing. The moment we try to take the whole media and whole movie industry, we need to re-think our motives. I’m perfectly ok with using media and movies to reach out to people for Christ. A great example is the movie To Save a Life. I’m all for trying to redeem a part of the media so we can get the message of Christ out there too. Our aim, however, isn’t to conquer the entire industry.
In the “Disowning Conservative…” article, the preacher makes a good point. “When the church wins the culture wars, it inevitably loses. When it conquers the world, it becomes the world. When you put your trust in the sword, you lose the cross.” Our focus needs to be on the people. Relationships relationships relationships. That’s our focus and motive as Christ followers. We strive to make those lasting relationships because that’s how we thrive. When we’re in community with others and loving on each other with the love God first showed us. Family to family. Friend to friend. Husband to wife.
The “Look Who’s Happily Unmarried!” article puts statistics to it. People long to be in relationship but our fallen condition has blinded us from seeing the beauty and benefits of marriage. Marriage is a blessing that God has given us to enjoy and struggle through with one other person on this Earth. He might even bless you with children because what greater joy is there than raising up another human being to see and live out the love that God gives us daily? Yet people are simply settling for what they think is best by saving their own health benefits and keeping commitment to a minimum so that way once things get dicey, boom, they’re gone and off to another person to who will settle for less too. This is so sad to see and it needs to start in families reaching out to those who may be going through something tough or some young couples who may not even know what they’re doing is wrong. From there, the Gospel can be communicated first through the way they live, then eventually as the relationship grows, communicated verbally.
Families are a huge passion of mine and I’ve observed that that is where the world’s problems are coming from. It’s a huge, sweeping statement but let me unpack it a little bit. Would most of the juveniles causing trouble in gangs be in gangs if they had a father who showed interest in them? How about a mom that loved on them by providing food at night? I know there are different instances I’ve heard where a kid has the best family that provides but still ends up in trouble, but he probably got pulled down into trouble by someone else who didn’t have a great upbringing. If a family isn’t giving a kid what is good for his soul, he’s going to try it somewhere else, and these days it’s not always in a good place that he finds it.
To wrap up, the article “For the Health of the Nation” goes into what needs to be done as a Christian as far as standing up for our morals. Not only what we believe, but also how we should be active in being involved in our world. As Christians, we aren’t called to sit back and referee what is right and what is wrong. Jesus calls us to go in Matthew 28. It requires a movement on our part and to get off the couch. From there, we make disciples in Jesus name baptizing them in the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. That’s where the church needs to operate from and that’s the central mission. Not simply to redeem an entire nation, but to reach people where they are in their hurt and healing, and show them hope in Christ.
-a wretch made right
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Something hit me tonight. It's something that I knew before but it was one of those reminding thoughts that God brings up.
Once we confess our sins, God chooses to forget them. We are holy and blameless in His sight.
Think about that.
-a wretch made right in His eyes
Monday, March 14, 2011
My pastor preached a home-run message yesterday. It was on Ephesians 2. Grace is the central theme in this passage.
I kind of forgot how important grace is when we're talking about salvation. First of all, a good dose of humility is handed out. We don't do anything in the salvation process. Literally. Nothing. We don't even make the decision to follow Christ because He calls and draws us to Himself. I know that I've struggled with that idea. God gave us free will right? (Yeah.) Then how don't we make the decision to follow Christ? But I have to realize that God is Lord over all and while we have free will, He works everything for His glory. We may get what we want and what we think is best for us but God knows better. He often turns our plans upside-down in order to draw us to Himself.
Second of all, not only do we not do anything, we don't deserve anything. There is nothing good inside us. We were made by God and our essence is good because God created us good (1 Timothy 4:4). But inside is our sin nature (Romans 7:18). This created a barrier between us and God. We've disobeyed Him ever since the Fall in Eden. There is nothing good that we do (Isaiah 64:6) so there nothing we can do to earn our salvation.
It's all done by God. He truly orchestrates all things according to His glory. In the end, no matter whether you go to Heaven or Hell, it will give glory to God. If you go to Hell, you will be glorifying Him by satisfying His wrath against sin. If you go to Heaven, then you will glorify Him by choosing to believe in Him and living their life for His purpose.
So I urge you to take full realization of this grace that God presents to us. I pray He leads you to Himself by realizing this truth not even just a little bit, but I'll venture to pray that He lavishes it on you and you'll have no excuse but to respond in obedience and complete submission to Him.
He loves you.
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Passing vs. Permanent. Fleeting vs. Forever. Limited vs. Lasting.
A good friend of mine came across this passage just a little while ago and showed me. She pointed out the usage of the words "tent" and "house." "Tent" is referring to our earthly bodies, while "house" is referring to our Heavenly bodies we will receive. That is a good way of putting it. I'm only passing through this campsite waiting for my call to move into my house. Until then, I've got some people all around me in this campsite that are going to stay in tents their whole lives, whether they know it or not. This may be a poor analogy but I'm the spokesperson for the ultimate Real estate agent. That analogy comes short of who God truly is, so I don't mean to take any glory away from Him but I thought it helps a little bit in understanding.
In the next verse, it says that "meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling..." This sums up the human spirit perfectly. Whether we know it our not, everybody knows that 1) there is God (Psalm 14:1) and 2) in some way, they were made for something bigger (hence, the need for religion). I've found that many times my spirit aches to be with Christ that I just want to cop out of this life and go on to glory.
But that's too easy. Christ didn't call us to a life of "easy." It is tough for me to say this because I'm dealing with an instance where I have to be patient and wait on Christ. I'm not one to wait. Like the rest of humanity, I want my reward right now. A lot of times, I selfishly say to God "I don't care, I just want it now." And something terrible happens: He gives it to me. It's not that He's giving it to me to spite me or that He's fed up with me, rather, it's so I can learn from my mistake and realize His sovereignty again. His discipline make the best lessons. Of course when I say "best", it's not always the most pleasurable. It is what is best for our relationship with Christ and it is often painful.
So realize that if you have Christ in your life, 1) realize that you are living in a tent right now so don't get comfy down here and 2) live in such a way as to show others that have something awaiting you. Don't get lazy. Show the love and joy that Christ has given you because if you're not joyful about all that Christ has given you, I would challenge you to take another look at your faith because it may not be there.
For the non-Christians, turn from your sin while there is still time. With all this craziness going on in the Middle-east, it's going to get ugly. I say this with a loving urgency to turn to Christ and leave your life of sin behind. You won't become perfect when you turn to Christ. That's not what it's about. But it means that you are no longer a slave to sin and you now have the opportunity to choose Christ as Lord of your life every day.
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
2. belief in oneself and one's powers or abilities; self-confidence; self-reliance; assurance:
Have you ever been in the situation where you feel like someone is really abusing their powers and abilities? For example, there may be a professional football player that is really talking up his ability to play ball. You can't really argue with him because he has the game to back up his talk. Is that being confident or being arrogant?
This is a tough thing to discern. I think the key thing to look at here is the difference in the definitions. They both have key words, I believe, that signifies a difference. Confidence has the word "assurance." It's true that this can be a part of arrogance too but the key word for arrogance is "offensive." If it is abrasive and overbearing, that's a fairly good sign that it is arrogant.
There are a couple times in Scripture that I find some arrogant sections.
The one that comes to my mind is in Philippians. In chapter 3, verse 17 Paul says "Dear brothers and sisters, pattern your lives after mine, and learn from those who follow our example." The first time I read that, I was like "Woah!! Paul, getting a little full of ourselves are we?" But after re-reading, I feel like he's being confident in the life he is living. He is confident that even though he is sinful, God is working through him enough to where people should be following his example.
We can and should follow his example too. And that can go for any other solid Christian figure today. We can follow their example in living a holy life, just as long as we realize they're human too and we shouldn't idolize them.
With that being said, are you using the gifts and position in your area of influence that God has given you rightly? Or are you using it to boost your own glory?